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Design Glossary

Compiled by Erica Horton

22 September 2019
Document Design
Professor Liz Lane
The University of Memphis
Alignment As a design principle, the purpose of alignment is, “to show
connection and coherence,” (Kimball and Hawkins, 32).
This can be accomplished in several ways. When laying
out text, objects or pictures in a design they can be placed
on the same line, spaced closely or loosely, placed in a list
or bulleted.

Consider the 2019 Beale Street Music Festival Facebook

Post in Memphis, Tenn. All of the stage names are lined up
next to each other and spaced equally across the page.
They are separated by dotted lines and each of the acts
performing on the stage are listed under the stage. Further-
more, the acts are lined up in a single column, centered,
spanning the width of the page similar to the titles.

The order of these acts accomplishes both the definition

and purpose of alignment.

“Used carefully, alignment can help organize the different

parts of a page, making it easier for users to manage the
many different design objects that can appear by creating a
unified system of page design,” (Kimball and Hawkins, 33)

The reader can easily locate the stages and the corre-
sponding acts. Combined with the white space and the uni-
formity of the lines, both visible and invisible, this makes
Horton 2 the post easy to read.
2019 Beale Street Music Festival Sunday Lineup
Facebook Post, May 2019

Both visible and non-visible lines make this Facebook post a clean, easy to read document.

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Color Color can be defined as varying shades of reflective light off
of surfaces. In design, it is a tool used to help bring attention
to design objects and highlight the significance of a subject.
Color can also be used just to make things prettier.

In Steven Heller’s, “I Heart Design,” Sean Adams discussed,

“La Fonda Del Sol Restaurant,” and the colors they used Ad-
ams said the design is, “..a wonderful synthesis of modernist
concepts of joy and play,” and that, “the color palette rejects
a European aesthetic and embraces a Mexican and South
American palette,” (Heller, 18). In this example, color rep-
resented culture and evoked several strong emotions, high-
lighting the significance of the food.

The October 2006 “Time Magazine” cover featuring a

pre-presidential Barack Obama is aa great example of the
importance of color. Instead of going with one of their usual
black and white or grey covers, “Time” went full color with a
white background behind Obama and its signature red bor-

As he was a serious contender (that won) to become the first

black president, this simple decision to place his photo in
color was significant and was a comment on the history he
eventually made.

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Barack Obama Time Magazine Cover
October 2006

Time Magazine stayed with it’s signature red

border and featured future President Barack
Obama in a color photograph against a
white background, highlightuing the
significance of his race.

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Contrast Anyone who ever had the pleasure of exploring
jimcarrey.com while it was still active knows that
it was an organized mess; but, it was also beauti-
fully designed. Aside from being extremely inter-
active and surprising, the site rarely had words
on the home page, forcing users to explore the
seemingly random elements on the page. How-
ever, as an actor known for his over the top ex-
pressions and comedy, this look suited the image
Carrey was projecting at the time.

Contrast is used to, “show and create emphasis,”

and, “...it is impossible to show contrast without
a comparison to something else,” (Kimball and
Hawkins, 29).

Contrast can be a good and bad thing. If things

are too dissimilar, then the objects used to create
a design will seem random and dysfunctional. If
used correctly, contract can help emphasize one
thing over another and create harmony within a
design. In the case of jimcarrey.com, in a rare
move, the risk of dissimilar things paid off and
highlighted the diversity of his portfolio as an ac-

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Archived jimcarrey.com
Webby Award Winner

The actor’s website featured

things he was interested in as
well as moments or characters
he played in movies, highlighting
his versatility as an actor.

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Proximity “Use proximity to show grouping and belonging. Users typically
assume that design objects that appear in close proximity be-
long together,” (Kimball and Hawkins, 31). Proximity can also be
defined as the relationship text, objects, colors or graphics have
to each other in a design. Sometimes the only thing that creates
proximity is similarity in the objects on a page.

Consider the visualizer on the next page. The design is very sim-
ple—black and white, a simply drawn tree, with the letters of the
song title, “Crowded Places,” around the tree. Here, proximity is
literal and symbolic. The letters are close enough that you know
the title of the song, but far apart enough to enhance the idea of
them belonging as leaves on the tree. The “leaves” are similar
because they are al letters. This is a still image, but as a video,
the letters rotate around the tree giving the illusion that they are

In Heller’s, “I Heart Design,” Art Chantry’s favorite design is “The

Happy Face.” He said, “We all know what the happy face means.
It doesn’t even require a common spoken or written language
to understand it,” (Heller, 26). The tree in “Crowded Places” and
it’s “leaves” rotating around it are also easy to recognize sym-
bols. Trees are universal and everyone can recognize them. As
Chantry noted with “The Happy Face”, however, small things can
change its meaning like color, to make it more ominous, happier,
or cultural.
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Crowded Places Visualizer
Vevo/YouTube Video
Banks Music Artist

The letters are close enough

to make the spelling of the
song title, but seperate
enough to represent more tree

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Texture At first glance the cover art for Brittany Howard’s “Jaime,” looks
scratched and faded. While it looks intentional, one can still imagine
the feel of the record. The singer’s voice parallels her own “scratchy”
album cover. It is deep, powerful and hard to miss. Essentially, her
voice, like the album cover is something that touches you and you
want it to touch you.

Though Kimball and Hawkins (25) define texture as, “any pattern
applied to an object,” I define it as any element of design that gives
an object dimension. The user will literally be able to feel something
when they touch it, or the representation of an element will be so
familiar that they remember what it looked, felt or maybe even tasted

Perhaps one of the strongest examples in Heller’s book is the “Hi-

roshima Appeals,” with a picture of burnt toast, modeled to look like
a human face. Katherine McCoy, who chose the image, said, “the
nonverbal communication of this poster’s powerful imagery is mas-
terful. Because of the global audience, the message cannot depend
on words from any one language and must communicate using sym-
bols,” (Heller, 20).

Just like the tree and letters in the “Crowded Places” visualization.
Music is universal and even when someone listens to music in an-
other language, the tone is felt based on the blending of instruments,
notes, volume, etc. Howard’s cover art captures her voice before
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Jaime Album Cover
Brittany Howard Music Artist

The album art looks scratchy,

hinting towards the scratchiness
of Howard’s soulful voice.

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Works Cited
1. Jimcarrey.com, Webbyawards.com, 2010, https://www.webbyawards.com/winners/2010/

2. Klein, John. “Why Obama Could Be the Next President .” Time , 23 Oct. 2006, p. Cover .

3. “2019 BSMF Sunday Lineup” BSMF Facebook Page , Memphis in May, 5 May 2019, https://

4. “BANKS Crowded Places Visualizer.” BANKS Crowded Places Visualizer, Harvest Records
, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t99ZhG5LEVk.

5. Brittany Howard, “Jaime Album Cover,” ATO Records , 2019, https://brittanyhoward.com/.

6. Heller, Steven. “I Heart Design: Remarkable Graphic Design Selected by Designers, Illustra-
tors, and Critics.” Rockport Publishers, 2011.

7. Kimball, Miles A., and Ann R. Hawkins. “Document Design: a Guide for Technical Communi-
cators,” “Chapter 2, Principles of Design.” Bedford/St. Martins, 2008.

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